Nutrition’s Elite 8: #4 – Water, Drink It.
You’ve probably heard this tip once or twice before. Ok, maybe a hundred times but it bears repeating. Humans can’t survive very long without water, so why do you try to survive each day drinking minimally?
If you do a great job of keeping your water bottle handy and refilled, maybe you can glance this blog over. Or you can read and simultaneously pat yourself on the back as you realize what a great job you’re doing. Hey, nice work!
For athletes, performance decrements have been shown to occur at as little as 2% dehydration levels. Additionally, athletes can lose up to 10% body weight through sweat during vigorous exercise if fluids are not replaced. Therefore, as an athlete, you must make sure that you are adequately hydrated before exercise, have a plan to hydrate during and available fluids after.
How does this topic relate to the “general nutrition” theme of the current series, though? Drinking water actually over sugar sweetened beverages is saving you calories, simply put. About 6 years ago the American Heart Association released a position statement that men should consume no more than 150 calories per day from added sugars and women, 100 calories. Regular soft drinks contribute to 33% of Americans’ daily added sugars. Therefore, if you start swapping and drinking water, your heart and waistline will thank you.
A meta-analysis of current research shows us that when you drinking water and not sugar sweetened beverages, your total energy intake is lower, about 8% lower. So we save calories by choosing water and not a coke but we save more calories when it’s meal time and we eat less!
These are obviously small yet cumulative effects so it takes time to see results.
Let’s talk cognition. Mild dehydration increases these aspects of a mood score: fatigue, anger, vigor, confusion. Task performance on short-term memory, visual discrimination and arithmetic ability are also impaired when dehydrated.
So picture this, you’re at work doing the daily grind. Maybe you fall behind a little bit one afternoon and just as you realize it in your mind, its echoed by your boss as he passes by. All you had this to drink today was your morning, 16oz coffee. All you want to do is turn around and yell at him (or her) “I KNOW ALREADY JUST LET ME GET CAUGHT UP!”. Its very possible that this gross overreaction may be due, in part, to being dehydrated.
Conversely, if you cognitively “down” and you roll past a vending machine, I bet you that snickers is looking really good. I haven’t read specific research to prove this claim but I know for a fact that sweet foods trigger pleasure centers in your brain. If you are feeling “down” simply because you’re dehydrated, it makes it all the more harder to resist the empty calories.
There’s too many benefits in staying adequately hydrated during sport and everyday life to argue or discuss every fine point. The simple fact is that choosing water daily over sugar beverages can save you calories and enhance the effect of your diet. It is my belief as well that your quality of life will be improved by staying hydrated (not to mention this is supported by research).
I hope this can just become another tool in your toolbox as you build a healthier life or nutrition regimen.
Questions? Email Alex at [email protected]
- Eat Less, More Often.
- Snacking Stay Power.
- Swap Fat for Fat.
- Water, Drink It.
- Activate Once Every Hour.
- Meal Prep, A Plan for Every Day.
- Sleep, an Underrated Rockstar.
- Daniels MC, Popkin BM. Impact of water intake on energy intake and weight status: a systematic review. Nutr Rev. 2010;68(9):505-521.
- Johnson RK, Appel LJ, Brands M, et al. Dietary sugars intake and cardiovascular health: a scientific statement from the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2009;120(11):1011-1020.
- Murray B. Hydration and physical performance. J Am Coll Nutr. 2007;26(5 Suppl):542S-548S.
- Popkin BM, D’Anci KE, Rosenberg IH. Water, hydration, and health. Nutr Rev. 2010;68(8):439-458.